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Matthew J. Edlund M.D.

To Mask or Not to Mask: Is That the Question?

Unmasking the psychology of masks.

WHO
WHO model of Coronavirus
Source: WHO

Masks are all the rage — literally. People get shot asking you to wear them. Some people smile and wave.

So what are the pros and cons of wearing pandemic masks? Here are a few of the innumerable reasons to wear and not to wear:

Pros

  • I might live longer.
  • The other guy might live longer.
  • Folks honk their horns at me. Usually, they don’t notice me at all.
  • People don’t comment on my two-tone hair.
  • East Asians wear them a lot and they die a lot less than we do.
  • It goes well with my last Botox.
  • The Surgeon General says I should.
  • They wear them in the West Wing of the White House (with exceptions).
  • People don’t hear me when I curse them out, especially those drivers who are trying to run me over.
  • Old guys don’t hit on me as much.
  • People think I’m conscientious — what do they know?
  • Waiters wear them and they look okay.
  • I no longer burn my lower nose at the beach.
  • Angela Merkel looks better in one; she doesn’t frown as much.
  • I feel better wearing one during anti-lockdown demonstrations.
  • Folks don’t notice I haven’t shaved for a week.
  • There are thousands of ways to wear them.
  • They’re great fashion statements.
  • They come in lots of colors.
  • I can make my own, and I haven’t crocheted in years.
  • My friends are wearing them on Facebook.
  • Instagram influencers like them.
  • People think they know my politics.
  • My ex-boyfriend (girlfriend) can’t recognize me.
  • People don’t notice my haircut makes me look like an extra from Lord of the Rings.
  • Big husky men come near me and they never do that at my age.
  • Hides bad dental work really well, especially English actors'.
  • People think I’m a bank robber.
  • People stare at me.

Cons

  • People stare at me.
  • People think I’m a bank robber.
  • Angry young people tell me they’re not going to wear those awful things because it impinges on their freedom, and I’m only wearing it because my son-in-law, the dentist, insists.
  • Now I know what my breath really smells like.
  • People think they know my politics; I don’t know my politics.
  • Folks with AR-15s get really close.
  • Folks without AR-15s stay really far away.
  • I sweat too much.
  • It keeps falling off my nose and then I touch my face and that can’t be good.
  • I can’t breathe. Then I cough more and get really bad looks.
  • It’s ruining my make-up.
  • I don’t like the colors, and why are they commercializing this, anyway?
  • I almost like the colors, but why are they politicizing this?
  • My glasses are so fogged up I can’t drive.
  • People think I’m from New York.
  • My ex-girlfriend (boyfriend) can’t recognize me.
  • I have to wash it all the time, and that wastes lots of energy.
  • Nobody asks for my phone number anymore.
  • My enemies are wearing them on Facebook.
  • No one can see my really great shade of lipstick.
  • Lipstick smears the insides and then I have to taste it all afternoon.
  • My boss likes me better without it.
  • I can’t find any, and they’re too expensive.
  • No one gets to see my killer smile, and I spent half my IRA on that.
  • I want to look like Zorro(a,) not a bank robber.

As the mask wars continue, feel free to write your own reasons pro and con. It’s time to unmask masking.

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About the Author

Matthew Edlund, M.D., researches rest, sleep, performance, and public health. He is the author of Healthy Without Health Insurance and The Power of Rest.